The Lawrence Inquiry

They came out of the inquiry snarling, spitting and punching. It was their demeanour, more than the psychotic language, or the failure to secure a conviction that has shocked liberal Britain. Theirs was not the body language of outcasts, but of individuals secure in their own identity, and even aware of a certain celebrity status within their own community. For militant anti-fascists the strutting stride and accompanying smirk will be familiar, having been wiped from countless faces in the last decade. But in so doing, militants warned that the politically organised were more symptom than cause. If the 'infamous five' were for instance card carrying members of fascist parties it would be more comfortable for liberalism to digest. Easier to pigeon hole, demonise, and dismiss as an isolated aberration in an otherwise functioning multi-cultural; mutually tolerant society. Smug self congratulations on the failure of the far-right to make an electoral breakthrough in Britain as in other European countries, has nothing to do with liberalism. Quite the opposite.

It is the ruthlessness of militant anti-fascism that has caused the temporary eclipse of the politicised far-right and distorted the bigger picture. With typical conceit, the chattering classes claim all credit: boasting that liberal opinion has triumphed, and extreme racist views are restricted to the membership of the fascist organisations.
However, Britain enjoys a race attack level on par with Germany where the far-right have just entered government. This is the flip side to 'Cool Britannia'. Former Independent editor Andrew Marr 'glimpsed the nightmare that could unfold'. His solution; "Fair policing, a decent liberalism from politicians and yes "respect" all round is the only alternative." (Daily Express July 1998)

Reproduced from RA vol 3, Issue 2, Aug/Sept '98